Today is the last day of the challenge. Phew! May is going to be an intense month, so one less daily task will make a big difference to my sanity. But it’s been fun, even if my brain has zigzagged all over the place. So many things happened in April, it’s not hard to believe how fast it flew by.
On the home front, we’re awaiting a zoning decision that may greatly impact the direction of our lives (or at least, the direction of my parents’ lives). My fingers are crossed that the zoning commission is able to make a case with the city council about modifying the new regs for short-term rentals. In the meantime, we’ve developed a good list of contingency plans but are hoping we can move ahead with our original plan. Either way, my parents will be moving into their new home on June 1. Can’t wait!
And with that, another AtoZChallenge is in the bag. I’ll be updating the blog much less regularly, but I hope you’ll check back now and again. Every Monday, you’ll see a new #WhatsYourStory segment about an aspiring or published author. Drop by and introduce yourself to some great new reads!
Thanks for reading J
A few years ago, my son’s music teacher taught them the words to Yellow Submarine. I’ve always loved their music teacher. He introduces them to music that they might never otherwise have heard, and my children have developed all sorts of opinions that are both awesome and hilarious. For instance, during their Beatles lessons, my son declared that “John is the best Beatle”. We bought my son a Yellow Submarine ornament for the Christmas tree.
One of the first songs I learned to play on my ukulele was Coldplay’s Yellow. That song speaks to my soul, and I can’t tell you exactly why. Maybe it’s because my dad wrote a song about the color blue and it got me to thinking about the colors of feelings. People usually associate anger with the color red, but for me anger is more of a fiery orange. And yellow, which for some people might resemble fear, is a sunshiny happy color to me. As I’m thinking about the new house, I see yellow, even though there’s not a speck of yellow in the house.
Xenial is word used to describe a friendly relationship between two parties, as in host and guest. Usually, I would choose a cheat word for this category…like Xtra or Xactly. And my husband suggested that I make this post about egg puns because we’ve been pretty obsessed with those since my daughter had to recite Shel Silverstein’s poem “Eggs-rated” a few years ago. BUT, I chose xenial because when our home improvement is all said and done, we hope to have xenial relationships with our guests.
Today’s topic is appropriate for two reasons. First, tomorrow I am flying to New Mexico – get it, winging it. I feel like there’s not enough time to do everything I want to do before I go, so I’m having to reevaluate. Just hoping I can get the important things in.
Which brings me to reason #2, I am completely disorganized and discombobulated today. So I am literally winging it with this blog post, with packing for the trip…you name it. I can’t seem to stick with structure right now, and I’m looking forward to letting everything go tomorrow and just being present with my family. Because honestly, I can’t quite keep it together this week.
Winging it. Brought to you by the letter W. And in case you're wondering why I don't just end this challenge a little early, it's because I think I can finish this. And there are so many things right now that I'm just not able to do...it helps.
By necessity, my last few posts are going to be short. I’ve got about 36 hours to make arrangements to get to my cousin’s out-of-state funeral, and prioritization of tasks is key.
The two things I focused on this week in my new novel were setting and character, specifically the development of my antagonist. When I think of villains, I often come around to the most exquisite Don John from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. He has no particular reason to cause trouble except that it suits his mood. In real life, I don’t believe that this type of villain is common. Humans are complex and there are many reasons for the way we act and react. In fact, one of my pet peeves is the use of the word “monster” to describe criminals. I think that labeling someone a monster marks them as so “other” that we relieve ourselves of the responsibility of trying to understand them. And if there’s one thing I do believe, it’s that ignoring a problem won’t make it go away. Humans who commit crimes do so for a reason, and understanding that reason helps us to understand how to help them OR prevent them from doing it again.
Yesterday, I was feeling frustrated and I used my T day to vent. Then, in the afternoon, my mother called to let me know that my cousin Tiffany died and I’ve got to tell you, I felt the weight of my petty frustrations like an elephant on my chest. So, today, instead of talking about writing or home improvement projects, I’d like to talk about unconditional love.
One thing that I’ve always cherished about my family is the way we love each other. We’re all so splendidly flawed, but not a day goes by when I don’t know that I have their love and support lifting me up. We make mistakes, but we find a way back to each other. I wouldn’t trade my family for anything in the world.
As I’m writing this, my thoughts are with Tiff. No matter what was going on in our lives, I always felt that she loved me. The last time I spoke with her was after her birthday. We shared milestones last year. I turned 40, she turned 50 and my mother turned 60. I sent her a card and then we exchanged texts. The last thing I said to Tiff was “I love you” and for that, I am so grateful. I hope she knew how much I loved her.
Death has a way of making us think about the people we love, the ones who have left us and the ones who remain. As I process Tiff’s passing, I will do my very best to reach out to those people and make sure they know how much I love them now, and will always love them. The love I have for my family is unconditional, and my heart is full with them.
I despise Monday mornings. Not the whole day….just the mornings. Trying to get the kids ready for school and out the door is so much more challenging when they’re both asleep on their feet. My daughter literally falls asleep at the breakfast table sometimes. And neither my son nor my daughter is particularly pleasant.
When my sweet little angels are on the bus and off to school, I find that my step has a little bit more spring in it. The thought of getting to work is actually amazing! And I ride that high all day.
Unlike many people, I am most productive on Monday’s. I can get a million tasks done because I am finally free to do so, relieved of the tyranny and oppression of my demanding cherubs. While they’re off learning, I’m writing, and planning, and checking things off my to-do list like a madwoman, completely content despite the fact that we’re at the start of an uphill climb to the next weekend.
Monday mornings are torture, but Monday afternoons are pure bliss.
Does anyone else feel like this?
Where’s my coffee!?!
(T is also for tomorrow, when I will quit all my complaining and write about writing and home improvement again :) ).
First, a funny tale from last night’s sleepover. My son, who is a huge introvert, has become quite the socialite lately. So yesterday, he had a playdate and then a sleepover with two different kids in one night. I was exhausted. This morning, I go to wake up the boys. I say, “I’m going to take a shower and then I can make you breakfast.” His friend says, “Can you lock the door when you take a shower?” I raise my eyebrows and say, “Why? Are you planning on walking in?” And he says, “No, just lock it please.” Umm…
I’ve convinced myself that this request is the result of school discussions about privacy. Otherwise, I don’t want to know.
On a house note, we found a great sectional for the new house. I was really concerned about how we were going to manage to get a couch up to the 3rd floor suite in our 100+ year old home without damaging something. Luckily, my friend just got a new sectional and she mentioned that it came in about 15 boxes and I thought “Hmm…something that breaks down into tiny pieces would be really really good.” She bought the couch at Lovesac. I didn’t even know they sold couches. Yesterday, my husband and I went into their mall shop to do some information gathering and we came away with a sectional that is going to be amazing in that space. Plus, we got to play with wooden blocks. Score!
Research is a key component in both my writing and my home improvement project. I spent so much time last week and at the beginning of this week doing research for the house, that I had to redouble my efforts for my book. So, I spent quite a lot of time researching locations, and specifically resorts, that one might choose for a relaxing vacation. I have a vision in my head of how the setting will influence the characters and the conflict, but I don’t’ have a specific place in mind. Now that I’m so close to drafting, I need to nail it down.
(Anyone want to recommend a vacation destination in the continental United States that might provide some relaxation and also a chance for adventure?)
And while we’re on the topic of resorts (and retreats) why does everything have to be tied to romance? It’s not that I’m against romantic getaways but since my goal is to have sinister things happen to my characters at their location, romance isn’t exactly high on my priority list. Though sexual tension is always fun. Hmm…
My book outline expands and contracts as the vision becomes clearer in my mind. I love this part of the writing process! It’s fun to play with the details and try out scenarios, poking holes and playing devil’s advocate. Revising the plan as I go along….it’s getting very exciting!
As I work on my next book, I’m also querying agents with a completed thriller based in North Georgia. I just started the process a few months ago, and when it comes to querying, it’s hard to predict how long it might take. But I would guess I’ll be at it for a while. The good news is that I’ve had several full and partial requests, so keeping my fingers crossed. Well, actually they’re uncrossed, because I have a new book to write and I can’t type with them crossed. So maybe cross your fingers for me, yes?
My family has been watching the Netflix production of A Series of Unfortunate Events. I loved those books and this version is so good. So so much better than the Jim Carrey attempt of yesteryear. Anyway, we just watched the episodes where we meet the Quagmire triplets. Needless to say, the word keeps coming up in the conversation. And since I’m writing about writing and querying and home improvement projects, I think quagmire is an effective visual for how some days can be. A soft boggy area of land that gives way underfoot?…OR, a sagging piece of floorboard in a new kitchen. An awkward, complex, or hazardous situation?...OR sending your book baby out to persons unknown and awaiting feedback with bated breath. Hey writers! Do you ever feel stuck in the bog? Me too, sometimes. But the feeling fades and then I move on with a smile on my face.
And finally, the Questionable Quotes archive on Snopes. Because it’s just a fun read J https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/category/quotes/
Doing the AtoZ Challenge this year has been a stretch, given my already hectic schedule, but I always enjoy the way it forces me to sit down and just write. The end project may be a little bit insane and choppy, but I appreciate you reading and hope you’ll stick with me to the end.
See you tomorrow for R day!
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.